Ireckon the time is right to give Town Centre Dead Pool another go, don’t you?
It’s an idea I had a while back but failed to exploit in such a way that I was able to retire on the royalties. It’s still got legs, though, even though spectacular big chain crashes seem to be a thing of the past as our economy continues to make a faltering recovery.
It’s really only based on the existing Dead Pool game, which you may already know about, even if you frown at its tastelessness.
It works like this – the participants all stick a few quid in the pot and pick the name of a celeb from a hat.
Some may be a bit long in the tooth, some still young but careless in their habits, and some are picked at random.
If you’re playing the long game, you can decide that the winner of the pot will be the holder of the name of the last celebrity still breathing, however long it takes.
Or you can be a little more callous about it, restrict the runners and riders to those who either look a bit peaky or have had one too many trips to the Priory, and run the game over a calendar year.
My variation sees a cold commercial eye passed over your town centre and a list drawn up those shopfront concerns which you reckon are hanging on by a thread.
Even when times aren’t tight every town has shops and High Street businesses which must struggle for custom.
It’s not just fashion salons for ladies of a certain age with window displays that haven’t changed for 30 years or shoe shops stuck in a time warp where you haven’t ever seen a customer cross the threshold.
There are businesses which have been coshed by the internet, like travel agents, and ‘nine day wonder’ efforts – remember those short-lived fish spas?
So draw up a list, get everyone to ante up, and see what happens. You can pick outlets of local chains, but not national concerns – they may go belly up through no fault of their own, despite their popularity with local punters.
And it can be any sort of business that has a street-level presence, whether it’s an arty pottery workshop, a gift shop full of candles, cards and codswallop or a parlour peddling tenuous therapies to the credulous.
No restaurants and cafes, they’re too vulnerable to the vagaries of fashion, but anything else should be fair game.
Then you’ve got more of a reason to spend time in your town centre, checking out who is still soldiering on and ticking off those who have handed back the keys.
At the end of the year, the pot is shared out among all those representing the firms which have survived to fight another day.
Oh, but there is one thing – you can only spend the winnings in those surviving businesses, rather than in out of town outlet malls, giant superstores or snapping up online bargains.